Huntley’s Haunted Trails

Huntley Park District holds event for families to celebrate Halloween


Courtesy of Nikki Darnall

By Nikki Darnall

A cloudy black sky casted an ominous sheet over all who dared to stand outside. A line quickly formed with people bustling with anticipation. Families holding their plastic pumpkin trick or treat bags, their eyes gleaming with excitement to get both treats and a scare. 

On Friday, Oct. 22, the Huntley Park District held a Haunted Trails Event at Deicke Park. The event took place from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., and was aimed for kids ages 8-17. They sold out an hour before the event, at 250 tickets.

As families stood in line, they could feel they were being watched. Despite the 34° weather and the breeze that could send a shiver up your spine, it was actually a person that gave them a fright. 

He would walk up and down the line with a slight limp, peering into the souls of each family, trying to pick the weakest link to pounce on. The only sound you could hear from him was the slight scraping of his axe he dragged behind him.

Matt Szytz, a scary character, has been working at the Huntley Park District for 6 years, since he was 15 years old. 

This is the first time that the Huntley Park District has ever done anything like this so they were eager to see everyone’s opinions. The trail should take about 15 minutes to walk through and has various tricks and treats along the way.

“You have scenes where things are going to be a little creepy, some may have flashing lights, or characters that are pretty creepy that will jump out at you when you least expect it. There are also treats along the way for any kids that are looking for some candy,” Szytz said.

“We started preparing with decorations about two months ago, we got some donations from the community and we have been out here since 10 a.m., setting everything up,” Meredith Johnson, Recreations Supervisor, said.

Meredith Johnson has been with Huntley Park District for 18 years. She started when she was a teenager and has stuck with them ever since. 

Johnson and the whole team achieved their goals because so many families and groups of friends came out of the trail giggling and exasperatedly explaining to each other what scared them the most.

“It was traumatizing because there was a clown with a chainsaw that really scared me,” Pyper Williams said. 

This event was a hit, as many families and teens seemed to enjoy the spooks and sweets and definitely got into the Halloween spirit.